A Guide to Men's Yoga
Updated: Feb 8, 2021
Do you know, that many yoga styles were actually created by men? And yet, in the Western world, for many men yoga is predominantly a female activity! But, luckily, we have seen an increase in the number of men of all ages in yoga classes, which is no surprise. Because yoga is great for men, really, really great!
Yoga - an important part of your physical fitness regime
You have spent years and years at the gym tearing dumbbells off the floor, lifting weights, pressing benches, rowing, rowing, rowing to future-proof your body. You may have been running, cycling, swimming - or doing all three, and more. And what did you end up with? A tight, TIGHT body - and not in a good way. Do you sometimes (often) find yourself aching, and is that lower back giving you trouble? It is, because you are missing something in your quest to keep your body functional. Physical fitness has 5 components: cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, body composition - and flexibility. I bet you can tick off 4 out of these 5 in your regime, and maybe you do add some stretches here and there. But this may not be enough (any more). Add yoga to the mix and be prepared for a revelation!
More benefits for men
Yoga is practiced around the world as a full body workout, linking breath to poses, sometimes held for a time, and sometimes moving through flowing movements. This, over time, will have a positive impact on your flexibility, mobility, range of motion - and your mind. Yoga is an excellent way to relieve stress, it provides a much needed time-out and can help you focus and relax. It is also known to improve your immune system (regular yoga boosts the lymphocyte (infection fighting cells) counts in your blood). And it is a known fact that your sex life improves, too as, according to Men's Health, being calmer, more confident in your body, stronger and more agile has immense benefits in this area.
Yoga styles for men
Different styles of yoga attract different people. Vinyasa Yoga for instance is another word for flowing sequence. This style can eventually lead to increased flexibility, strength and stamina. Any class that has "flow" in its title is essentially a vinyasa class.
Yin Yoga is almost the opposite end on the yoga style scale. Poses are held for much longer, sometimes many minutes, and are often floor based, and supported by props, such as bolsters and blocks. I have heard men (rowers in this case) chatting after a Yin class calling it "the best practice I have ever done". Long, slow, deep holds relax the back muscles and lengthen what's been shortened through hard training - aaaahhhh! Yin Yoga targets your deep muscles and fascia, so for anyone who trains hard and suffers from tight hamstrings, glutes, gastrocnemii, etc. Yin is something to consider. It can make a marked difference to your well-being, performance and risk of injury.
Restorative Yoga is another style that you can benefit from if your day has left you with sore muscles (through exercising or sitting at your desk), if you are stressed or just feel run down. Relief for sore muscles and moderate lower back pain through gentle spinal extensions to release the lower back, while lengthening the spine, working tight hamstrings safely and effectively through slow movements and long holds is part of restorative yoga. This style focuses even more than Yin on a balance between the physical and mental release. Your parasympathetic nervous system is activated, a system responsible for rest, digestion, energy conservation and slowing the heart rate. You may find yourself walking out of the studio on a cloud!
These are just three styles offered at Unwind Yoga Studio that can benefit men immensely. If you are worried about injuries, embarrassed about being inflexible, or being in a room with predominantly women, or indeed have questions as to how you can benefit from yoga come and have a chat with us. We have teachers that are trained to do yoga with athletes and for athletes, yoga for inflexible people, yoga for any-BODY. Once you get over the initial daunting feeling, you will love yoga as much as we do!
(Unwind Yoga Studio is located in Cookham, Maidenhead, in Berkshire)